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The four-step admissions process for Duke Elllington School of the Arts begins with an application (Step 1), pre-audition workshops (optional) and auditions (Step 2), a family interview (Step 3) and then a decision by the DESA team (Step 4). 

Hammers and Keys


Applications to Duke Ellington School of the Arts and all other DCPS and DC public charter high schools are submitted via the MySchoolDC website.  For more information on the application process, see Please note that there are no paper applications – all applications must be submitted online through the site.

The online application will request the email addresses of three people, in order for them to submit recommendations.  After the student’s application is completed and submitted, these individuals will receive an email requesting that they complete the recommendation.

Upload a photo of the student, report cards, test scores and short essay(s) on why you believe Ellington and the art department are a right fit for you.

If you have any issues submitting application materials, contact the MySchoolDC hotline at 202-888-6336 or email us below.

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Group of dancers rehearsing


STEP 2: Pre-Audition Workshops (optional) and Auditions 

Applicants may audition for one or two arts majors. Start preparing for your audition in January with Pre-Audition Workshops. 


Need a vocal coach? Want to review your portfolio? Want to observe a monologue? Interested in rehearsing?

Duke Ellington School of the Arts will be hosting PRE-AUDITION WORKSHOPS early in the calendar year. These workshops to help you prepare for your audition and allow you to rehearse, observe, practice, review and get feedback from our teachers before your audition!! Students who participate will be able to learn what to bring, review the audition procedures, learn how to build a portfolio, present their work with confidence and prepare their work for the audition.

LOCATION: 3500 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 


IMPORTANT NOTE: These audition workshops are solely to help you prepare for your audition and they are by no means a part of your application and admission into Ellington!




Two actors rehearsing a scene

STEP 3: Family Interview

Art Department Presentation Night will take place in February or March for all students who passed their audition and their families.


The family interview is the second to last step. We’ve become acquainted artistically – this is the chance for us to get to know the whole you better. Family interviews are held with the applying student and at least one supporting adult, the Director of External Affairs, staff from the relevant arts department, one of our administrators or Principal. Interviews are approximately 20 minutes long. They give us a chance to get to know each other better and to see if Ellington seems to be a mutual fit.



After your family interview is completed the Admissions Committee (Principal, Administrators, Teachers and/or Department Chairs) review your total application and make a final admissions determination.


Official decisions are only made at the end of five rounds and are confirmed through MySchoolDC and an official welcome letter from Ellington Admissions with next steps regarding enrollment. MySchoolDC Lottery Results are generally announced in April.


All non-DC residents, who may be extremely qualified are subject to space-availability.


Duke Ellington School of the Arts does not discriminate in the admissions process based on an applicant’s disability in conformance with the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. Admissions candidates who have passed their audition are requested to submit their IEP or 504 Plan prior to testing in order that we may be sure to give an applicant their appropriate testing accommodation.

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